|Rediff India Abroad Home | All the sections|
Banned Bangla author slams Dhaka
May 09, 2006 14:47 IST
A Bangladeshi author has accused Dhaka of "deliberately" delaying the renewal of his passport and alleged that Islamic fundamentalists in his country were "targetting" him for his "pro-minorities and pro-India" writings.
Salam Azad, who is currently living in New Delhi after his book Bhanga Math ('Shattered Dream') was banned in Bangladesh in 2004, claims the Bangladesh High Commission here has not renewed his passport for last four months after it expired in January this year.
When contacted, the Bangladesh High Commission had no immediate comments to offer.
Azad in his banned book, chose to write about the Madrassa education and atrocities committed on Hindu families in Bangladesh.
"I met the Bangladesh High Commissioner to India Liaquat Ali Choudhary in January and deposited my passport who passed it on to Minister (Consular) D S Shaukat Raza. Initially, they promised me to renew it within a day. However, after innumerable calls, faxes, letters and visits to the mission, Raza told me bluntly that they would process it through Dhaka," he told PTI.
"When I complained to Choudhary, he simply washed off his hands from the entire affair. He said the renewal of my passport was in the hands of the Bangladesh government and asked me to go to Dhaka if I wanted to retrieve it. It is obvious he has orders from the Khaleda regime to do so."
Meanwhile, the mission gave Azad, who says he has authored 41 books so far, including three English titles, one of which is Contribution of India In the War of Liberation of Bangladesh, a verification statement and a travel permit to go to Dhaka.
But Azad is anything but pleased.
Alleging that the Bangladesh government is adopting a "vindictive" attitude towards him for his views and books, Azad says: "I am a Bangladeshi national. Of course, I want to go to my people and my friends in Dhaka. But why should I go on a travel permit? I want my passport. I face a threat from the fundamentalists and the government there. They are waiting to pounce on me. I even asked Choudhury if he could assure my safety and renewal of passport in Bangladesh. He refused."
Azad took shelter in Delhi when during a conference in Geneva in 2004, he was informed that his book that explored pre-1947 and present political and social atmosphere in Bangladesh had been banned in that country.
"The next day the publisher was arrested. The publications there were writing against me. My wife was in hiding for almost two months. My relatives were being hounded and their houses raided by the police. My friends in Bangladesh advised me not to return to the country and so I came to India where I have many friends," he says.
"In the past too, I have written on the condition of Hindus in my country in Why are Hindus Migrating From Bangladesh?'. According to my research, 475 Hindus migrate from Bangladesh to India every day. I have written on minorities, on how their property and land is forcibly occupied, their women are raped," he said.
Azad, who is now talking to many Indian publishers, wants to translate his books in all languages. He wants his passport back and desires to go to Bangladesh but only after the next general elections as he hopes his country would elect a new and a "more tolerant and secular" dispensation.